Variation in the prices of oncology medicines across Europe and the implications for the future

Brian Godman, Steven Simoens, Amanj Kurdi, Gisbert Selke, John Yfantopoulos, Andrew Hill, Jolanta Gulbinovic, Antony P Martin, Angela Timoney, Dzintars Gotham, Janet Wale, Tomasz Bochenek, Iva Selke Krulichová, Eleonora Allocati, Iris Hoxha, Admir Malaj, Christian Hierländer, Anna Nachtnebel, Wouter Hamelinck, Zornitza MitkovaGuenka Petrova, Ott Laius, Catherine Sermet, Irene Langner, Roberta Joppi, Arianit Jakupi, Elita Poplavska, Ieva Greiciute-Kuprijanov, Patricia Vella Bonanno, Hans Piepenbrink, Vincent de Valk, Robert Plisko, Magdalene Wladysiuk, Vanda Marković-Peković, Ileana Mardare, Tanja Novakovic, Mark Parker, Jurij Fürst, Dominik Tomek, Katarina Banasova, Merce Obach Cortadellas, Corrine Zara, Caridad Pontes, Maria Juhasz-Haverinen, Peter Skiold, Stuart McTaggart, Durhane Wong-Rieger, Stephen Campbell, Ruaraidh Hill

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Introduction/ Objectives: There are increasing concerns among health authorities regarding the sustainability of healthcare systems with growing expenditure on medicines including new high-priced oncology medicines. Medicine prices among European countries may be adversely affected by their population size and economic power to negotiate. There are also concerns that prices of patented medicines do not change once the prices of medicines used for negotiations substantially change. This needs to be investigated as part of the implications of low-cost generic oncology medicines. Methodology: Analysing principally reimbursed prices of patented oral oncology medicines (imatinib, erlotinib and fludarabine) between 2013 and 2017 across Europe and exploring correlations between GDP, population size, and prices. Comparing the findings with previous research regarding prices of oral generic oncology medicines. Results: The prices of imatinib, erlotinib and fludarabine did vary among European countries but showed limited price erosion over time in the absence of generics. There appeared to be no correlation between population size and prices. However, higher prices were seen among countries with higher GDP per capita which is a concern for lower income countries referencing these. Discussion and Conclusion: It is likely that the limited price erosion for patented oncology medicines will change across Europe with increased scrutiny over their prices and value as more medicines used for pricing decisions lose their patents combined with growing pressures on the oncology drug budget. In addition, discussions will continue regarding fair pricing for new oncology medicines and other approaches given ever rising prices with research showing substantial price reductions for oral oncology medicines (up to -97.8% for imatinib) once generics become available. We are also seeing appreciable price reductions for biosimilars further increasing the likelihood of these developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalGenerics and Biosimilars Initiative journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • cancer
  • pricing
  • health policy
  • generics

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